New Intel 520 Series SSDs outperform at marginal cost premium

New Cherryville series drives achieve high performance benchmark at slightly higher price than Intel’s SATA II 320 Series

By Stephen Pate – SSD drives have been getting faster and less expensive. Intel leads the performance race with its new SATA III 520 Series SSD drives.

SSD drives can boot Windows 7 and now Windows 8 in less than 20 seconds.

That speed advantage is very important for digital audio recording. The ability to store digital music data without dropouts makes SSD mandatory for anyone doing serious audio recording. The speed of SSDs is also a boon to mixing and mastering when multiple data tracks are being read from memory, processed and written back to disk. Hard drives can cause dropouts that ruin an audio recording.

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While SSD drives are still more expensive than HD storage, the price of a SSD boot drive is now under $200. Within the last year the price of a 120 GB Intel SSD has dropped from about $400 to in the $200. The earlier SATA II drives are about 5% less.

SATA III drives have a theoretical maximum throughput of 6 Gb/sec. SATA II drives have a data throughput limit of 3 Gb/sec. Actual throughput is less than the maximum. Older computers won’t benefit from SATA III.

Tom’s Hardware concluded “a relative strength in all of those benchmarks doesn’t necessarily translate into a positive gain in user experience. Does an extra 25% jump in testable data throughput cut your Windows boot time or make backing up a game on Steam faster by a corresponding percentage? Does it even directly translate into file copies that finish that much faster? Not at all.”

“So, here’s the thing. Yes, there are clear cases, particularly if you’re a power user, where owning a motherboard with 6 Gb/s is going to allow your 6 Gb/s-capable SSD to shine. However, if a friend were to ask us if he should hold off on an SSD purchase until he could upgrade his old Core 2 machine to something newer with 6 Gb/s connectivity, we’d say no. For someone using a hard drive today, a fast SSD (even one artificially hobbled by a 3 Gb/s port) will yield massive and immediate gains in nearly every aspect of computing.”

For actual testing of the Intel Series 520 drives, see Intel SSD 520 Series Solid State Drive

Where to buy in USA

The Retail kit (part number ending in K5) has all the cables and parts for installation in a desktop or laptop.

Tiger Direct USA

Intel SSDSC2CW060A3K5 520 Series Solid State Drive – 60GB, SATA III

Intel SSDSC2CW120A3K5 520 Series Solid State Drive – 120GB, SATA III

Intel 520 Series SSD Solid State Drive – 240GB, SATA III

Intel SSDSC2CW060A3K5 520 Series 6Gb/s SATA SSD 60GB

Intel SSDSC2CW120A3K5 520 Series SSD 120GB

Intel SSDSC2CW240A3K5 520 Series 6Gb/s SATA SSD 240GB

Where to buy in Canada

Tiger Direct Canada

Intel SSDSC2CW060A3K5 520 Series Solid State Drive – 60GB, SATA III

Intel SSDSC2CW120A3K5 520 Series Solid State Drive – 120GB, SATA III

Intel SSDSC2CW240A3K5 520 Series Solid State Drive – 240GB, SATA III

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